THE NGO BILL

A new Bill placed before Parliament has put local and foreign NGOs under state control. All NGO’s will be under a Council to be appointed by the Government. The Council will have the power to register and revoke NGO’s as well as to co-ordinate their activities. The Bill attracted much criticism especially from foreign aid donors. A US spokesman said his country believed in the right of NGO’s to operate in an environment free from overly burdensome registration requirements and regulatory oversight. The Head of the Africa section of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) was quoted in Mtanzania as saying that to put civil organisations and NGO’s under restrictive legislation would have a negative impact on the country’s development. Sweden was working closely with NGO’s because it considered them to be part and parcel of its relationship with Tanzania. As the time for the Bill to be debated in Parliament approached, various NGO’s conducted what the Guardian described as ‘a spirited campaign’ against it. This involved dozens of lobbyists airing their concern that the Bill would be inconsistent with the rights to freedom of association.

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